What to Study in South Africa: Options & How to Decide


There are lots of options to go for when choosing a course in South Africa. Due to the growing economy and the promotion of many industries in the country, many careers have become very lucrative thus making it difficult for young school leavers to settle on a career path.

If you find it difficult to choose a career path due to the numerous opportunities laid before you, or you can’t choose one because you don’t know the course you want to study.

what to study in south africa

This guide will help you make the right career choices.

What to Study in South Africa: Most Lucrative Options

Before going into how to decide what to study in South Africa, we’ll look at the available options in the country. Below are the most popular courses in South Africa. These courses are offered in most reputable universities in the country.

  • Astronomy
  • Finance and Tax
  • Computer Science
  • Law
  • Economics
  • English Language and Literature
  • Obstetrics and Gynaecology
  • Medicine and Surgery
  • Accounting
  • Architecture, Planning, and Geomatics
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Construction Economics and Management
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Pediatrics and Child Health
  • Pathology
  • Psychiatry and Mental Health
  • Public Health and Family Medicine
  • Radiation Medicine

How to Decide What To Study in South Africa

1. Consider Your Interests

Studying a course you are not passionate about is not advisable as some courses are quite intensive and would require passion and hardwork to scale through.

To decide what you want to study, you’ll have to look at things you’re interested in. If you love handling and repairing computer systems, you can opt for courses like computer engineering. If you love biology and healthcare, you can choose courses related to Medicine and healthcare.

This first step is to take a good look at the parts of life that interest you and note them.

2. Conduct Research

When you have found your interests, you can go ahead and search online if any university in South Africa offers such a course. Note that, some courses are quite advanced and can’t be found in South African universities.

If you like a course like automotive engineering, you might have a hard time finding a university in South Africa that offers such a course. However, you can opt for mechanical or electronic engineering and still gain knowledge in automotive engineering when you graduate.

When making research, you should not only check online. Meet with students that are studying the particular course you’re interested in and ask them about the pros and cons of studying such a course.

3. Speak to a Friend

If you still have a hard time, you can speak to a friend or family member about your difficult in choosing a course. Chances are they might know one or two things you could be great at.

When speaking with a friend or family member, don’t let them choose a course for you because you’ll be the only one to go through the learning, assignments, and examinations involved in the course. Instead, seek their advice only.

4. Consider Job Opportunities

It is important that you consider the career opportunities for the course you hope to study. This should be one of the factors that determine the course you should study. Consider the job security, responsibility, income and stress of the job opportunities offered by the course before settling for the course.

Generally, highly competitive courses offer the best career opportunities in South Africa.

5. Choose a University

Once you’ve made your choice about the course you want to go for, you can go ahead and choose a university. South Africa is home to various reputable academic institutions both public and private. Below are some of the most popular universities in South Africa.

  • University of Cape Town
  • University of Fort Hare
  • University of the Free State
  • University of KwaZulu-Natal
  • University of Limpopo
  • North-West University
  • University of Pretoria
  • Rhodes University
  • University of Stellenbosch
  • University of the Western Cape
  • University of the Witwatersrand
  • University of Johannesburg
  • University of South Africa
  • University of Venda

When going for a going university, check the studying facilities, teaching practices, and the overall environment of the university before making your choice. You can go an extra mile by attending lectures at the university you think is best before settling for that university.

6. Check Admission Requirements

The admission requirements for every university varies, but if you have chosen your preferred university already, you can go ahead to check if you meet its admission requirements.

It is usually more difficult to get accepted into competitive courses like Medicine and most engineering courses. If you’re going for these courses you’ll have to perform extremely well at the entrance examination and also be at your best throughout the duration of the course.

Note: The workload of competitive courses are quite heavy, so even if you’re able to get admitted, you’ll have to go through long lecture hours, tough assignments and examinations, and laborious projects before you can get the degree.

If you do not meet the admission requirements of the university you want to apply for, you can check other universities or opt for universities of technology. You can also choose to go for similar courses instead of the initial course you want to study.

Below are some of the reputable universities of technology in South Africa.

  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology
  • Central University of Technology
  • Durban University of Technology
  • Mangosuthu University of Technology
  • University of Mpumalanga
  • Sol Plaatje University
  • Tshwane University of Technology
  • Vaal University of Technology

When choosing a university, ensure you go for one that is affordable. Some courses are very expensive to study in many South African universities. If you’re unable to meet up with the financial demand, you can opt for other universities that offer a more affordable alternative or pick less financially demanding courses.

By following this guide, you can easily decide on what you want to study in South Africa.

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